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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Weekend Special:                                50.1° at 2:04 pm
One Year in:
Officials reflect
on lessons learned from 
current and past pandemics

During the COVID pandemic of the past year, people in general have learned how to protect themselves against respiratory diseases.  

To Thomas Russo, that’s one of the benefits we’ve seen from this experience.

“It would not surprise me, when influenza season rolls around, that even with COVID under control and hopefully not being a concern ... People now know about masks and have masks and know that they protect against respiratory illnesses,” said Russo, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University at Buffalo.

One thing we learned, Russo said, is that public health infrastructure had been chiseled away and really was not optimally positioned to deal with the pandemic.

“We’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. At some point there’s going to be another pandemic. I‘m hoping now that we’ve learned our lesson from this one,” he said. “Countries that have very rigorous health structures in place, such as South Korea, fared better than us. We can’t forget about keeping that public structure in place for when the next pandemic occurs, hopefully not in my lifetime, but we’ll see.”

The UB Division of Infectious Diseases chief said anti-vaccination supporters, also known as anti-vaxxers, have spread misinformation that vaccines are terrible.

“The medical invention that has saved the most lives, increased the number of years that people live, are vaccines,” he said. “I’m hoping that we could put this anti-vaxxer movement behind us and that people while embrace vaccines,” he said. “There’s still work to be done. We still have the majority of this country to get vaccinated. I hope people will embrace the concept that vaccines are good. Adults should get vaccinated when it is recommended.”

Some adults are distrustful, but it’s hard to say how many, Russo said.

“However, since vaccines are not mandatory for most adults, in contrast to children that require certain vaccines to attend school, they just take a pass. For example, our influenza vaccination rate for adults is generally around 40 percent,” he said. “My hope is that children, adults and everyone alike realizes that vaccines are a good thing. We need to put these negative thoughts about vaccines behind us and realize that they’re one of the best tools we have.”

For the business world, Russo says, Zoom video conferencing will continue.

“All of us live in the age of Zoom and people have learned, and businesses have learned that,” he said. “It saves travel time, you can downsize office spaces and things like that. Of course, it depends on your job. It’s a whole new way of having conferences and working with people ... there’s no question that that’s here to stay as well.

“It’s going to change a little bit in terms of how we go about work-related activities,” Russo said of the work day. “Even if they go into work, that first meeting of the day may be from home.”

Hopefully, people will also learn that not all information sources should be considered equal and trustworthy, Russo said.

“Social media is rampant with incorrect news ... People heavily, in terms of the lay public, get lots of their information from social media,” he said.

Russo gave the example that a study might come out that comes to one conclusion, but that messages on social media will flip that result and claim the opposite, and that people’s biases may enter into it.

“I think we need to learn that when it comes to things that are critically important ... that we use trusted and reliable sources. Certainly, there are a number of sites that are reliable and a number of sites that are unreliable,” he said.

Politically motivated decisions have been an issue during the pandemic, Russo noted, though he said he’s not trying to look back and point fingers.

“It’s been difficult and we’ve learned a lot on the fly,” he said. “Public health decisions should be made by public health officials, who then advise government officials, who then come out with regulations. Most of our regulations have been driven science and the facts, but not uniformly.”

In looking back at a pandemic that hit the GLOW region and beyond over 100 years ago, the 1918 flu pandemic, Batavia City Historian Larry Barnes said there were some changes similar to what happened in the past year. Over a century ago, in response to the flu pandemic, local leaders closed the schools. They also shut down entertainment venues, such as theaters and bowling alleys. People in the medical profession quarantined some residents at home, he said. People wore masks in public.

“The churches stopped having in-person services for awhile,” he said. “Those were all local decisions. They were not made by the state. They were not made by the federal government. That’s a difference (between 1918 and today).”

The historian said he didn’t come across any stories, from that time, of protests against wearing masks and other safeguards, as have happened this past year under COVID.

He did find one interesting story from the fall of 1918 in Batavia, though.

“I came across a weird thing. It’s amazing,” he said with a laugh. “They didn’t know what, exactly, was causing the flu and they didn’t know how to treat it. Somebody got the idea in city leadership that burning leaves in the fall, the smoke might kill the germs. That’s what they said.

“So, they set aside one particular day and encouraged everybody to rake their lawns and put a pile of leaves in front of their house. Then, on a particular day that was designated, all these leaf piles were set on fire,” Barnes said. “The city was filled with smoke from burning leaves, which, of course, did no good. In fact, it caused some harm because of the negative effect on the air quality. There was a newspaper report. They claimed in the report the following day that the smoke surely killed large numbers of the flu germ. They don’t know what they were talking about. I hadn’t heard of anybody trying that before.”

As for the future, post-COVID, Barnes said one thing that might happen, though it may not be long-lasting, is that people may take more care in terms of washing their hands and avoid “risky” behavior in general.

“I know it appears that the flu has not been as common this year as usual. My guess is the kinds of things people have done to try to avoid COVID-19 have helped cut down on the incidence of flu infections as well,” he said. “People may, at least temporarily, say ‘Hey, this turns out that would be a good thing in terms of health issues in general. There may be some changes that are lasting. Sometimes, we forget about it in 20 years.”

Barnes, like Russo, felt that working from home and Zoom meetings will continue.

“I’ve talked to people who say, ‘You know, I really like that (virtual meetings). Having to go somewhere, sit down with a bunch of other people and conduct a meeting is not nearly as efficient timewise as it is just to get together (for a) Zoom meeting and then move on,” he said.

“Some people I talked to really liked being able to do shopping online. Shopping online increased dramatically during this pandemic,” he said. “People turned to ordering their groceries online and having someone else do the shopping, bring them out and put the groceries in the vehicle for the customer or deliver them for the customer became more popular. There may be some changes in the way businesses are conducted where there will be more online shopping, services offered where people don’t have to go to the store themselves.”          Courtesy of the Batavia Daily News

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Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.


Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.


"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.


Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.

AUGUST 4-7, 2022

AUGUST 4-7, 2022
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